I keep asking myself, "Has the world gone crazy?" What are people talking about when they say "these hard economic times?" I am so confused because I hear so many people say these are such hard economic times but, at the same time, what I see happening with my own eyes and hearing with my ears is a totally different story.
Let me give you some examples what I mean. Are these examples of hard economic times?
-- Last year we spent more at Christmas and all year shopping than the year before.
-- Americans spend 500 million dollars a year to have their teeth whitened -- not cleaned, just whitened to look nice.
-- A single mom on welfare spends $350 on a cell phone-- not on the calls, just the cell phone.
-- On a home shopping show they were selling American Girl dolls for $135. The woman selling it said "Kit is our most popular doll."
The other woman said "That is probably because Kit represents the Depression Era and girls nowadays relate so well to that because they have to sacrifice and give up so many things in these hard economic times." They sold out of the doll. This meant several thousand of these poor little girls who have had to give up so much received a $135 doll for Christmas. What was it they had to sacrifice? Maybe it was the $25 outfits that went with the doll. (I have never paid $25 for an outfit for myself let alone for a doll!!)
-- A woman just lost one of her part time jobs. She was sobbing and crying because her family was going to have to sell their house, which they could no longer afford. For the past several years they have been making very good money but they have been spending it on everything including $150,000 for decorating their home, several trips a year for the whole family to travel across the country and to Canada for sports events their sons wanted to play in, buying a couple of new cars every year, eating out frequently and the so on.
Even after she lost her job they still took another cross country trip to go to a game. After coming totally unglued about the thought of having to sell the house she was asked if they might be able to save the house if they would cut back on their spending a little. Her reply was, "No way. I hate to scrimp and save and do without. I won't live like that." As my son in law loves to say "Allllrighty then..."
-- My brother just met a man who restores hot rods for a living. When asked if things are getting harder for him the man laughed and said "No, I'm doing better than I ever have and I need to hire someone to help me." My brother is now working for that man. He is getting paid to sand people's car engines so they will look pretty and smooth. People have so much money they can pay bunches to have their engines sanded? Go figure. For those of you who restore cars, don't yell at me! My dad has restored Model A and Model T cars for years, so I know all about car restoring.
-- Here's my favorite: A sales person selling a $1500 piece of jewelry said, "We know things are so rough in these hard economic times so we have put this on 5 easy payments for you." They sold out of it. Do you know how contradictory that is? If things are so hard, what in the world are people doing buying $1500 pieces of jewelry, even on 5 easy payments?!?!
I don't have anything against people buying jewelry, dolls, cell phones or restoring hot rods. What I do have a problem with is people moaning and groaning about how hard these times are and then taking off to go shopping or play a game of golf.
We get upset and angry about the government, big companies and their crazy spending but we need to stop pointing fingers and look at our own lives. Are they doing anything differently than the average American?
We may not have the opportunity to be foolish with millions or billions of dollars like them, but that doesn't matter. The point is that many of us are being just as foolish with what we have as they are. We are up to our eyeballs in debt just like they are and most of the time it's because we didn't think or care about how we were spending it. Then we want someone else to bail us out.
Yesterday, I heard a pastor, Bob Coy, talk about this same type of thing. He had some good points to make. He showed a web site called Global Rich List, where you can type in an income and it will tell you how rich you are compared to the rest of the world.
Here are some interesting stats from that site:
If you make $35,000 a year, you are in the top 4.62% richest people.
Here are some others:
$50,000 - Top 0.98%
$75,000 - Top 0.82%
$100,000 - Top 0.66%
It makes you stop and think. Are things really that bad? Two million children died last year because of lack of clean water and I sit here complaining because the price of gas is so high that I might not be able to take a vacation this year?
Yes, unemployment is up but look at it this way: over 92% of the people in the US have jobs. Many of those who don't have jobs aren't even looking for work. I know a lot of people who are 20 or 30 something and living at home and not bothering to find a job.
We need to change the way we look at things and stop parroting what everyone else says about "these hard economic times."
I'm not so naive as to miss the fact that financially things are getting out of control and will eventually bottom out, but that doesn't mean things are so hard yet that people should be carrying on the way they are. Instead of moaning, we need to fix things, starting in our own lives.
The pastor I mentioned earlier said if we have a friend who is deep in debt who says "let's go to the mall", as a good friend, you need to say no. Suggest that your friend come over to your place for coffee and a visit, helping her and yourself not to spend more. Start looking at what you are doing and how you can fix it.
We need to face the facts. A big part of our "hard economic times" is summed up in this wonderfully appropriate saying:
We buy things we really don't need
with money we really don't have
to impress people we really don't know.
Memorize that saying and the next time you go to buy anything stop and think, "Do I really need that?" Do you need to buy your kids the most expensive shoes? Do you need to get the most expensive car or would a two or three thousand dollar car get you by? What about those manicures and pedicures? How much do you spend on all the kids activities or on throwing that big football party and having the whole gang over?
I knew a man who lost his job and his wife worked at a very low paying job. He said he didn't care if he didn't have a job. He was still going to play golf every weekend (and he did). They are in a big financial mess now, but not because of "these hard economic times" they blame it on.
When considering buying something, ask yourself, "Do I really need it?" Do you have the money to buy it? If you have to borrow money for it, you don't have the money to buy it. It's that simple. If you need it, work hard and save and then get it.
Many of us think that waiting to buy until you actually have the money is impossible, but once we stop buying everything on credit, we free up all that money we were using to pay credit card bills, interest and fees. That money is then available to buy things we need or want.
Why do you buy the things you do? Do you do it to impress others? This is pride. I don't have room to go into detail in this article, but God hates pride as much or more as drugs, alcohol abuse or sexual immorality and so many of us suffer from pride. If you don't think you have a pride problem, consider whether or not you might say one of these these statements: "I would never allow my family to wear clothes from a garage sale." or "There is no way I will do without .......(fill in the blank)".
The Bible cautions us to watch the words we say. Don't just spout empty meaningless words like "in these hard economic times" just because the world is using them and don't use words like that as an excuse to justify why you don't have your life and finances together.
Actions do speak louder than words. Are your actions matching your words?
Jill Cooper is a frugal living experts and the co-editor of http://www.LivingOnADime.com. As a single mother of two, Jill Cooper started her own business without any capital and paid off $35,000 debt in 5 years on $1,000 a month income.
Photo Credit: Stuart Miles / Freedigitalphotos.net